So your dog is pregnant. But how long does it last and what should you expect to happen?
The normal range for length of pregnancy is 58-68 days, with the average being 63 days. This is equivalent to nine weeks, or just over two months. If you think your dog is pregnant, you can take her to the vet for a health check and to discuss what to expect. The vet might perform a blood test to help confirm pregnancy or a scan, which can give you a rough idea of the number of puppies.
What is a dog pregnancy calendar?
This is a guide that gives you information on what to expect week by week of the pregnancy. This will cover information such as physical and behavioural changes, as well as changes to diet such as increased frequency of meal times. If you do not have previous experience of caring for a pregnant bitch or her litter, it is important to seek advice.
Be sure to check with a vet whether your usual flea and worm preventative products are safe to use in a pregnant dog.
What are the signs or symptoms that my dog is pregnant?
There are some physical and behavioural changes that you might notice, but most of these are more apparent later in pregnancy. Early in pregnancy your dog may look and behave as normal, although dogs can get morning sickness – just like people. If she is vomiting, speak to a vet about whether a check-up is needed.
An increase in appetite can occur at around three weeks and a slight discharge from her vulva at around four weeks. At this stage her teats might also change in colour or size and have a clear discharge.
There is a blood test available at 21 days into the pregnancy, which the vet may be able to offer. From around day 25 the vet can also do an ultrasound scan to look for puppies.
During week five you will notice weight gain, and it is really important to ensure that your pet is on the correct diet for pregnancy and that you are feeding her at the recommended frequency. Often the belly does not appear larger until closer to week six in the pregnancy.
During week eight other physical changes will take place and her nipples will become larger and more swollen-looking. She might also show behavioural changes such as nesting, and be quieter than normal. Before whelping (giving birth), it is common for her temperature to drop.
What colour is a dog's water when it breaks?
This should be mainly clear, or ‘straw’-coloured. However, the colour can vary and can even be red or green. If you are unsure whether the discharge is normal, seek advice from a vet.
How can you tell if a puppy is in the birth canal?
There are three stages to the birthing process. Stage 1 involves preparing for the birth and you may notice a watery discharge from her vulva. Although the uterus starts to contract at this point, you will not see this externally. This stage can last 12-24 hours.
Stage 2 is the actual delivery of the puppies. This is when you will see strong contractions and the puppies will be entering the birth canal. You should not interfere with this process and certainly never try to feel for puppies. If your dog has been straining for over an hour without producing a puppy, or there has been a gap of longer than two hours between puppies, you should contact the vet straight away. Also seek advice if she hasn’t given birth two days after a drop in temperature, or she is having strong contractions but they are intermittent.
Stage 3 involves delivery of the placenta (afterbirth). Usually a placenta will be delivered after each puppy and it is important to keep count of how many are passed. If a placenta is retained (stuck inside) this can lead to very severe infection. Sometimes you may see a couple of puppies born and then a couple of placentas passed. She may eat some or all of the placentas.
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